It’s only late October but the Denver Broncos are the best team in the NFL right now. That doesn’t always translate to a championship and there’s still a long way to go, but the Broncos are rolling.
They’ve won four in a row and have beaten the Indianapolis Colts, the Arizona Cardinals, the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers. All of those teams are among the best in football and the Broncos have handled all of them, with only the Colts managing to keep the margin to single digits.
Once again there is a lot to like so let’s get started.
What I liked:
Emmanuel Sanders: I wrote when the Broncos signed Sanders that it was an underrated signing, but I never saw this coming. The Chargers simply could not cover him on Thursday night and he continues to add the ability to take the top off of a defense. Teams can no longer just sit on the shorter routes because if they do, Sanders will beat them deep. His second touchdown right before the half gave the Broncos the lead and the momentum going into the third quarter.
Ronnie Hillman: This is the third straight week that Hillman has made it into this piece, and he just continues to get better. Hillman continues to break off the long runs but he also getting three and four yards on a consistent basis. He has also proven himself as a receiver out of the backfield and is greatly improved as a blocker. If the Broncos and Hillman continue to run the ball like this, then I don’t know who is going to stop this offense.
Offensive line: After some struggles early, especially in the run game, they have improved greatly. Peyton Manning was not touched and some of the holes were huge in the running game. The Broncos also converted a couple of short yardage plays on third downs and scored twice on running plays from the two yard line. They made a couple of changes and it has taken awhile to gel but the offensive line is clicking right now.
The Defense: Yes it would have been nice if they wouldn’t have given up those two touchdown drives in the second half, but the Chargers do have talent on offense. The Broncos completely shut down the running game again and forced Phillip Rivers into two interceptions.
Brandon Marshall: The linebacker that no one heard of before this season was the best defensive player on the field Thursday night. He took away the Chargers screen game all by himself and was a monster versus the run. Marshall is just another example of the Broncos being able to find talent in a variety of places.
Aqib Talib: He played his best game as a Bronco on Thursday night. Talib blanketed his guy all night and had several pass breakups. He also does not get nearly enough credit for his play versus the run, and he was terrific again versus the Chargers.
Peyton Manning: Oh yea, that guy. You know the Broncos have had a good night when Manning is almost an afterthought. He threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns, ho-hum.
What I didn’t like:
Pressure: Would have liked to seen a little more pressure on Rivers at times, but the Chargers were running a lot of quick stuff to get rid of the ball quickly.
Tight-end coverage: Antonio Gates hurt the Broncos several times on Thursday night, and they need to get that cleaned up going forward.
The Broncos have beaten two very good football teams in the span of four days, and have taken firm control of the AFC West and possibly the AFC.
The Broncos now face three straight on the road and that will be tough, but it is going to take a supreme effort for anyone to beat this team right now.